It was five in the evening. She hadn’t come to work that day. But I wanted to see her. I got down at the bus stop closest to her home. The long path was worth the walk. Carrying a box of cookies and the day’s newspaper supplementary, I made it towards H-42 in Highland Hills. I had to call to make sure she was there. She was. A lot of thoughts ran through my mind. Would I be able to tell her finally or would I again muster?
I climbed the flight of stairs to her home. A ring of the bell and there she stood in sporting shorts and a white tee. With a paintbrush in hand, she welcomed me in. She was painting. The canvas lay on the floor. She sat back on the cushion and asked me to get comfortable. I just sat there looking longingly at her.
She painted layer by layer, while striking a conversation with me. The usual questions did the rounds – what happened at work, how is work and so on and so forth. I tell her I have something for her, and give her the cookie box. She is overjoyed. She loves my mom’s cookies. She stops painting and has a cookie immediately. I smile.
She notices the supplementary in my hand. She enquires as to why I am carrying it. I tell her that it is my new obsession to complete the Sudoku in the supplement on my way home in the metro. She thinks that’s nice. She has the widest of smiles. I look at her, hoping she doesn’t notice that I am secretly admiring her.
I go closer to inspect the artwork. But I know I am closer to her. She always smells good. I make some suggestions, which she thinks are good. We talk a bit more. She always has this fruity fragrance around her. I do not get too close to comfort. She might not like it. I keep my distance.
After a while, I decide to head out. I wanted to stay. But I tell her that I am leaving. She even asks me to stay back. But I falter. She herself gave me the excuse that my mom was home, and I should be getting back. I said yes to that. I must really be a fool.
She came to the door, but didn’t close it. She stood by the stair, and watched me walk out through the gate. Pleasantries were exchanged and promises made of meeting tomorrow. I wanted to tell her. But I kept walking.
I walked on the street, my hands free, my heart heavy. I knew I had missed my chance. I should have told her, while I had the chance. I could have walked back. But I didn’t. I realised something. I messaged her: I think I left something back at your place. She called me back to tell me that she could come and give me my Sudoku puzzle.
But who said it was the Sudoku?